Florida Turnpike Reinvests Toll Revenue Into Multi-County Improvements
Aiming to improve traffic flow, Florida’s Turnpike has undertaken multiple projects from Orlando to Miami. Most of the projects add express lanes with variable tolling.
Florida’s Turnpike system maintains 483 miles of toll highways. About 1.8 million motorists travel on the turnpike system each day. The turnpike operates as a separate business unit of the Florida Department of Transportation and is responsible for operations on FDOT-owned toll roads and bridges.
Construction of the turnpike began in the 1950s and the first section from Golden Glades in Miami to Fort Pierce was completed in 1957. A second section from Fort Pierce to Wildwood was completed in 1964. In 2014, the turnpike collected $796 million in toll revenue. That money is reinvested in operations and maintenance and construction projects. New projects must be locally supported, environmentally suitable, economically feasible and meet a transportation need, as determined by how much traffic the project would serve. To meet the threshold of economic feasibility, a “new roadway must pay 50 percent of its own bond indebtedness by the 12th year of opening to traffic and all of its own bond indebtedness by the 30th year of operation.”
In Miami-Dade County, MCM Engineering of Miami is widening the turnpike from six to 10 lanes between Sunset Drive and Bird Road. The additional lanes will be express lanes with variable-priced tolls to help manage congestion. The $54.4 million project began in July 2015 and will continue through early 2018.
“The Turnpike travel lanes will be realigned between Miller Road and Bird Road, which will allow more consistent travel speeds,” says Fiorella Teodista, Spokesperson for Florida’s Turnpike.
The project includes adding sound walls in residential areas; toll gantries; asphalt milling and resurfacing; additional drainage, signage and lighting improvements; landscaping; and traffic signal improvements on local roads.
About 135,000 vehicles travel the project limits daily. The contractor and turnpike have worked closely to reduce travel disruptions.
“The greatest challenge on the project has been the complex coordination required among the numerous partners and stakeholders,” Teodista says. “The team has been proactive in identifying potential issues and expediting coordination efforts with the involved stakeholders.”
Also in Miami, the turnpike is widening the toll road from South of Killian Parkway to north of Sunset Drive by adding four express lanes with variable tolling. The project will include adding noise walls in residential neighborhoods, new toll gantries and new railings to the Killian Parkway overpass to improve safety. The $73.9 million project began in spring 2015 and is expected to wrap up in early 2018.
From north of Eureka Drive to south of Killian Parkway, Florida’s Turnpike is adding express lanes and realigning the interchange with SR 874, the Don Shula Expressway. The $145.3 million project also adds turn-lane improvements and frontage roads. Noise walls will be built in residential areas. As usual, asphalt milling, landscaping, lighting and drainage improvements will also take place.
From Bird Road to the Dolphin Expressway, a $112 million project is adding two express lanes. The scope of work also includes 3.5 miles of noise walls. The bridge on Coral Way will be replaced and interchange improvements made at the Dolphin Expressway. Work began in summer 2016 and is scheduled for completion in spring 2019.
The turnpike is adding two express lanes from SW 288th Street to SW 216th Street, realigning travel lines and reconstructing the toll gantry. The former toll administration building will be demolished as part of this $70 million project, which began in April 2016 and is expected to complete in summer 2018.
In Broward County, Condotte America of Medley, Florida, is modifying and improving the interchange with Sunrise Boulevard, and implementing all-electronic tolling at the interchange.
“Currently, drivers can face extended backups at this interchange, because northbound and southbound entry and exit traffic is channeled through a single toll plaza,” Teodista says. “By constructing two new ramps with direct access to eastbound Sunrise Boulevard, there will be a significant reduction in vehicles that need to make left turns at the existing ramp.”
The $50 million project includes adding an entry ramp to the southbound turnpike from eastbound Sunrise Boulevard, and a new exit ramp from the northbound turnpike to eastbound Sunrise. The turnpike expects providing one ramp and toll gantry at each of the four quadrants in the interchange will allow for improved traffic signal timing and traffic flow.
The contractor will also remove the existing toll plaza at the northbound turnpike entrance, will replace and raise the Sunrise Boulevard bridge over the turnpike, widen lanes on Sunrise, add noise reduction barriers, and reduce the concrete barriers. Tolls and concession revenues are funding the project. Construction began in November 2015 and is expected to finish in late 2019.
Palm Beach County
The turnpike is modifying and improving the Glades Road interchange to improve traffic flow. The $8.3 million project includes widening the exit ramp from the northbound turnpike to Glades Road. Work began in January and is expected to continue through the summer of 2018.
In the Orlando metro area, a $174 million project widens SR 528, the Beachline Expressway, from four to eight lanes between Interstate 4 and the Turnpike, and from six to eight lanes from the Turnpike to McCoy Road.
The project consists of the addition of two, tolled, SunPass-only express lanes between Interstate 4 and John Young Parkway, and one-tolled, SunPass-only express lane between John Young Parkway and McCoy Road. The project also includes ramp improvements at International Drive, Orangewood/Universal boulevards and John Young Parkway, with auxiliary lanes between the ramps to alleviate traffic weaving.
Six bridges will be widened and the bridge over Shingle Creek will be reconstructed. Noise walls behind the Williamsburg subdivision are included. New sidewalk connectivity along International Drive, Orangewood/Universal Boulevards and John Young Parkway is being provided. The existing through lanes from I-4 to the Beachline West Toll Plaza at Milepost 6 remain untolled. The project is scheduled for completion in 2019. Work began in 2015.
A $380 million improvement project widens 11 miles of the Veterans Expressway (Toll 589) in Hillsborough County, in the Tampa area, providing much needed congestion relief to this regionally significant corridor.
The improvements, which are divided into five separate projects, double the capacity of the highway from four to eight lanes. Improvements include reconstruction of 38 existing bridges and building three new bridges. The widening project also includes a concurrent project to convert the section of highway between Memorial Highway and Van Dyke Road to all electronic tolling, providing nonstop travel to the nearly 150,000 customers who travel the Veterans Expressway on a daily basis.
The project also introduces the express-lane concept to the region. Additionally, work includes gantry foundation installation, toll plaza equipment buildings, asphalt milling and resurfacing, roadway reconstruction and widening, lighting, drainage, utilities, demolition and final landscape work.